Monday, June 24, 2019

Fishing Lake Saskatchewan to Brandon Manitoba

The original plan had been to drive Jan to Saskatoon today to catch a plane back to Vancouver. Once I said that we would probably head down to Regina afterwards and take the Trans Canada Highway back east, she changed her departure to there.

The last day for the Traveling Trio

It was 64 F as we left Fishing Lake at 9:15 AM and I was glad to be back in shorts. We drove to Wadena and then headed due south on a road that did not have many bends. In fact, Jan informed us that the curves that did occur were known locally as "correction lines".

Scenes From Saskatchewan

A correction line

The Qu'Appelle Valley was a welcome break from the endless prairie flatness. We wound down the steep hill to the river and noted they even enjoy skiing here in the winter. We stopped at an Esso gas station in Fort Qu'Appelle that had old mechanical pumps and then visited a hidden Tim Horton's for a rest stop and more coffee for me. Then we climbed out of the valley and continued south. I have not suffered any of my usual fatigue on this trip due to challenging and engaging discussions with Jan on many topics.

An old CP Rail station

Hills of the Qu'Appelle Valley

Fixing the roads here

Looking across the valley as we climb

More Scenes From Saskatchewan

Arriving in Regina, we stopped at a Perkins Restaurant for lunch. I tried their new breaded chicken finger sandwich with chicken noodle soup. Sandy had a croissant cooked like French toast covered in strawberries and whipped cream. Jan had something vegetarian. The server was exceptionally good. Thanks for lunch, Jan. Sorry to all that, despite having my camera, there were no food photos.

Saskatchewan pickups don't need parking lines

Dust, the provincial colour of Saskatchewan

Our final meal together

The GPS routed us right through the city so we experienced the construction work on Victoria Avenue. The signs suggested the Zipper Merge but almost no one seemed to understand how that worked. I did, however, and jumped a couple of lines. We got Jan to the Regina International Airport at 1:40 PM, in plenty of time to catch her flight. After goodbye hugs, she disappeared through the airport doors and we turned ourselves east.

Downtown Regina


Regina is a pleasant place

We made it

My number one failing with the GPS kicked in again at the airport. I simple told it to Go Home. If I had looked at a Regina map, I would have seen that following the signs to Moose Jaw (west of us) would have taken us straight to the Trans Canada Highway, where we could then have headed east. Instead, the infernal unit took us back through the city and then again into the construction on Victoria. I guess this was another case of Live and Don't Learn.....

As we finally reached Highway 1, we were held up a bit longer due to a wreck. It appeared a pickup truck had hit an SUV in an intersection and flipped it up onto a concrete barrier. Our side was mostly slowed due to the inevitable rubberneckers.

Once on the big road, where the speed limit was 110 KPH, I set the cruise at 120 (75 MPH). Traffic was light and the road, as usual, was straight. We saw the town of Wolseley had an operating drive-in theatre, the Twilite Drive-In. Rural Saskatchewan seemed to hearken back to a quieter, gentler time.

We stopped at the Visitor Centre in Indian Head to use the bathroom and struck up a conversation with two very nice ladies working there. I did not watch Little Mosque on the Prairie but it was set here.

Cultural appropriation?

The top of an old Esso Voyager Restaurant

Sandy thought this sleeper cab was huge

Saskatchewan has been blessed with oil, potash and uranium (they put Elliott Lake out of business) in addition to wheat, other crops and cattle making it one of the "have" provinces. Big trucks  run over the highways, usually as doubles or B trains. Sandy said there was no point in paying two drivers. Given the nature of the roads, I am surprised they have not gone to triples like we see in a few states in the US. With the 110 KPH limit, we saw virtually no fast movers. Ten over seemed fine for most people.

The sky was like Montana, aka Big Sky Country. We could see several storm cells across the horizon and, near Wapella, we caught one. It wasn't too bad and, eventually we came out the other side.

One interesting thing was that, while we were traveling on a divided highway with a 110 KPH speed limit (faster than anything in Ontario), it was not a restricted access road. Dirt country roads came right up to it, protected by only a stop sign. Perhaps Saskatchewan trusted its drivers more than Ontario. In any case, building and maintaining highways like this must cost a whole lot less and gives the citizens much better access.

A dirt road intersecting with the Trans Canada Highway

Eventually, we caught up with an RCMP vehicle. West of Ontario, the Mounties provided provincial policing services under contract. He was flowing along at ten over so we just stayed behind him until he turned off just before we reached Manitoba.


Welcome to Manitoba and the Central Time Zone

Virden, Manitoba had a Manitoba Tobacco Tax Reporting Depot. Despite the promise in the Constitution that goods could be freely exchanged across provincial boundaries, the provinces recently won a case at the Supreme Court of Canada to protect their sin taxes on alcohol and tobacco. Anyone with over the allowable amount is supposed to run right in and fork over some cash.

Virden to Brandon was as flat as we imagine the prairies to be.

Potash unit train from Saskatchewan

I had made a reservation at the Days Inn & Suites in Brandon, Manitoba while we were having lunch. The '& Suites' part of this chain has been becoming more upscale these days.

We left Highway 1 amid warning signs of a low bridge. Then there were more signs and an opportunity for vehicles to turn around. 3.7 meters is just over 12 feet, with the dip in the road contributing to the low clearance. Still, the Equinox cleared it easily.

Low Bridge

The hotel was nice and so was the room. Rather than go out for supper, we ate ham, cheese and yogurt from the cooler. We also finished the Boston creams so my pancreas will be able to take a break. I sorted some photos and notes but, true to my expectation, I did not get the posts done from yesterday and today before I went to bed, so I was behind again.

There was a storm as one of the cells we saw reached the town. We heard the thunder as the raindrops hammered against the window. \

Someone named Justin at the Manitoba Weather Centre posted a photo of the storm.

Storm - Brandon Manitoba - June 24, 2019
Photo by Justin - Manitoba Weather Centre

Today's Route (376 Equinox miles):

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